A Newfane dentist whose million-dollar office renovations were called the revival of the village's main street, now faces federal fraud charges as he is drawn into continued investigations of Laborers Local 91.
Dr. Scott D. Geise, 45, of Newfane, the owner of Newfane Family Dentistry, was arraigned in a nine-count indictment on Tuesday by a federal grand jury. Charges stem from filing nine claims totaling $6,970 according to U.S. Attorney Terrance P. Flynn.
The claims for fraudulent dental work, according to the indictment, were filed between September 2002 and November 2006. The investigation was a joint effort of the U.S. Department of Labor, FBI, IRS and the Niagara County sheriff.
Sheriff Thomas A. Beilein said his investigation followed up on Local 91 plea deal information.
"A couple of people in Federal Court said they were working for Dr. Geise as free-lancers doing concrete work and said [Geise] was doing health insurance billings for dental work that was not done. Information that was supplied during the plea bargain process was helpful [in indicting Geise], Beilein said.
The indictment charges Geise with assisting another person in submitting a fraudulent claim for health care benefits to the Laborers Local 91 Welfare Fund and false claims to health insurance for services not rendered.
Flynn said last year that even though the main investigation into racketeering and corruption against Local 91 was over, "there are a few remnants . . . and we want to leave the door open for further investigation."
The sheriff said that several of his investigators went to Geise's office a few months ago and questioned him, and Geise turned himself in Thursday in federal court to face the indictment.
He could face up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or both.
Geise's attorneys, Joel L. Daniels and George V.C. Muscato, maintained Thursday that their client is innocent, and accused the government of relying "on the word of an admitted union embezzler and cheat."
Geise has been honored in Newfane as a community leader and was credited with kick-starting the revitalization of South Main Street by converting an old appliance store into his dentist office, complete with a marble fireplace, wall sconces and Greek columns in 2001, at an estimated cost of $1 million.
Geise then knocked down two adjacent houses to create more office space for other doctors, with parking and a gazebo, which had become a gathering spot for concerts and other summer events.
He told The Buffalo News that he grew up in Newfane, just six houses from his practice, and said he wanted a spot everyone could use.
Geise and a partner also began offering charter boat rides on Lake Ontario last summer on an 80-foot schooner.